Phillip IslandPhillip Island is a large island at the mouth of Western Port Bay, less than two hours drive from Melbourne in Victoria. Because of its proximity to the state capital, it's a popular weekend tourist destination, especially during the summer months. The island is separated from the mainland by just a channel and is connected by a bridge. It is part of the Bass Coast Shire of Gippsland.
The island is steeped in motorsport history. Australia's first ever international Grand Prix was held in 1924 on the original circuit comprising the still existing roads on Phillip Island. The annual Australian Grand Prix, an official round of the World MotoGP plus a round of the World Superbike (WBSK) is held at the 1950s purpose-built Motor Racing Circuit, and draws a massive contingent of motor sport fans (colloquially known as "petrolheads") every year.
By carThe journey from the Melbourne City Centre to Cowes is just over 140 km and takes about 2 hours (it can take up to 3 hours during major events such as the Grand Prix). The main route is down the Monash Freeway towards Warragul, turning off at the South Gippsland Freeway and following the signs. Phillip Island is connected by a two-lane bridge to the small fishing town of San Remo on the mainland.
By busV/Line runs public coaches from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne's CBD to Cowes and Inverloch via Dandenong & Koo Wee Rup. You will need to catch the coach towards Yarram in the state's east, alighting at the town of Koo Wee Rup. From there, you can transfer to another coach towards Cowes. The buses are timetabled to connect, so there should only be a 5-10 minute wait at Koo Wee Rup. There are 8 departures daily on weekdays, with 4 departures daily on weekends. The trip should take no more than 2½ hours. You can plan your journey at Public Transport Victoria.
By ferryIf you're after a more scenic journey, a ferry departs from Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula to Cowes daily.
- From Flinders Street Station, take a metro train to Frankston
- Transfer to a diesel train at Frankston station, alighting at the last stop, Stony Point.
- Board the ferry at the Stony Point Wharf, adjacent to the station, towards
In total, the journey should take about 2½ hours, the same as the bus. However, you will need to pay for a ferry ticket on top of a Zone 1+2 Myki fare. The ferry departs weekdays to Phillip Island between 7:10AM and 7:25PM, on weekends ferries run less frequently. For timetabling and costs, see .
Phillip Island is not a small island. Walking from Newhaven to the Nobbies, on opposite ends of the island, would take upwards of 5 hours. Such large distances generally require a car to get around. The island's main road is Phillip Island Road, running from the bridge near Newhaven to Cowes. The turn-off to the left near Sunset Strip onto Back Beach Road provides the direct route to the Penguin Parade and the Nobbies. Most rural roads on the island have a speed limit of 80kmh, although be wary of wildlife such as kangaroos which are known to wander onto the road.
The island has very little in the way of a public transport network. The Cowes Line bus runs six times each way weekdays, and four times on weekends; it travels between Cowes and Wonthaggi, via Anderson and San Remo along Phillip Island Road. The V/Line bus to Melbourne also follows the same route from Anderson, and can be used for making short hops along the island. Tickets can be purchased on-board both buses. There is no public bus service to the Penguin Parade, Rhyll, the Grand Prix Circuit or the Nobbies.
Phillip Island Designated Driver (tel:0481 265 534) operates an on-demand transfer service around the island, including to destinations such as the Penguin Parade. Booking required, and a deposit must be paid in advance.
phone: +61 3 5952 2283address: 1805 Phillip Island RdA number of indoor and outdoor family activities, including a hall of illusions, mini-golf, adventure ropes course and the famous maze, which takes an average of 45 minutes to complete. Popular with kids and young families.
phone: +613 5951 2800address: 246 Samuel Amess DriveThe 57-hectare island was originally inhabited by the indigenous Bunurong people, until European settlement in 1801. Lieutenant James Grant planted a number of crops, making it the first European agricultural site in Victoria. A number of the historical buildings still remain, including the original homestead. Today, the island is a fully-working heritage farm, with a number of activities for kids and families, including cow milking, sheep shearing and whip cracking between 2-3:30PM daily. Horse and cart rides also operate from 1PM during school and public holidays. The island is popular to walk around, taking about 1 and a half hours; during the walk, it's possible to see a variety of bird species and farm animals. A modern café and visitor centre also operate on the island.
phone: +613 5951 2800address: 1810 Phillip Island RoadTwo tree-top boardwalks allow visitors to observe koalas up-close in their natural habitat in the gum trees. The centre also has a scenic stroll through Australian bushland, where there is the possibility of seeing wallabies, echidnas and other wildlife. A visitor centre and park rangers provide information on the koalas, their habitat and the conservation effort, while there is also a small gift shop and café.
phone: +613 5951 2800address: 1320 Ventnor Rd, SummerlandsAn educational centre on the island's south-west tip, documenting its flora, fauna and natural rock formations. Visitors can stroll along the windswept boardwalk and potentially see penguins and the gull rookeries for free. Seal Rocks are home to Australia's largest fur seal colony, but at 1.5 km off the coast, can be difficult to see with the naked eye. Instead, there are pay-to-use binoculars or boat tours can be arranged in Cowes. If nothing else, there are spectacular views of coastal scenery.
phone: +613 5951 2800address: 1019 Ventnor Rd, SummerlandsThe island's most popular attraction, the Penguin Parade allows visitors to see dozens of little fairy penguins waddle up from the sea to their nests at sunset. Penguin arrival times vary throughout the year, from about 5:15PM in June to 8:45PM in January; estimated time can be checked on the website. Viewing areas are outdoors, unprotected from rain and wind, and photographs are not allowed after dark. Try and arrive early before the tour buses to get a good seat! There are a variety of more expensive ticket options which offer seats with a better view, enclosed viewing, small group up-close encounters on a private beach, accompaniment by a park ranger, among others. You can also walk around the visitor centre and boardwalks during the day before the parade begins.
RhyllA small, pretty, peaceful fishing village at the north-eastern tip of Phillip Island. To the west of Rhyll is the Rhyll Inlet and Conservation Hill Reserve. This network of waterways and wetlands is a significant feeding and breeding area for resident and migratory birds. A pathway which features several sections of boardwalk extends along the coast from Rhyll's town centre and along the southern side of the inlet, then heads inland to the Rhyll Wetlands.
phone: +61 3 5956 6400address: 25 Veterans Drive, Cape WoolamaiDedicated to exhibiting and preserving memorabilia from Australia’s longest war. Completely run by volunteers, it houses over 5000 items throughout the fairly basic shed complex, including a full-sized tank, helicopter, howitzer plane and other vehicles at the back. An engaging light and sound video tells the story of the Vietnam War, with some of the displays being interactive. A small café and gift shop are also located on-site.
phone: +61 3 5956 7316address: Phillip Island Airport, Phillip Island Tourist Rd, Cape WoolamaiOffers 7 different tours of the island and surrounding region, from up in the sky! Requires a minimum of 2 passengers and photography is permitted at all times. The airport can also arrange transfers from local accommodation or Melbourne, and can create custom flights on request.
phone: +61 3 5956 6600address: 930 Phillip Island Rd NewhavenA chocolate factory with a difference. Consists of a large retail store and cafe (free entry to both) and a paid tour of Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate. This consists of 6 rooms of interactive displays, games and exhibits all dedicated to chocolate. It includes the world's largest chocolate waterfall, robots that dispense chocolates and a squirl machine that creates chocolate patterns on a conveyor belt which can be eaten after they set. Every visitor gets a free chocolate on entry
phone: +613 5951 2800address: 11/13 The Esplanade, CowesThe not-for-profit nature parks organisation operates two boat tours to the Seal Rocks area from Cowes Jetty (and sometimes Rhyll Jetty, depending on operational requirements). The EcoBoat Express takes one hour, visiting Seal Rocks, the Nobbies and the surfing hotspot, Cat Bay; the tour operates daily year-round, with 2-3 departures in the busier Summer months. The EcoBoat Adventure runs for an hour and a half, visiting Seal Rocks, the Nobbies, Cat Bay, the Blowhole and a viewing of the Summerland Peninsula cliffs; it operates only in busier months at 3PM daily. Free Wi-Fi is available on-board. Participants must be at least 4 years old and 100cm tall.
phone: +61 3 5952 9400address: Back Beach Rd
phone: +61 3 5956 9255address: 30 Rhyll-Newhaven Road, RhyllAn engaging trout farm just out of Rhyll which offers two pools of varying difficulty where fish can be caught. Caught fish can then be cooked on site at complimentary BBQs or by a chef at the café where it can be eaten for lunch. Fishing lessons included in admission, although rod hire, keeping the fish and fish cleaning, marinating and cooking cost extra. A bush tucker trail also allows visitors to learn more about edible, native Australian plants used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
phone: +61 3 5956 9244address: 96 McFees Road, RhyllPhillip Island's most popular winery is set in a beautiful landscape overlooking the Rhyll foreshore. Wine tasting available for $5, which is refunded on purchasing a bottle. Wine can be purchased by the bottle or glass, and snack food is also available. Occasionally holds live music days for the public.
- Cape Woolamai. There are several loops of walking tracks of various lengths. Doing all the walks might take up to 3 hours. Most of the cape is a huge mutton-bird or shearwater colony and the birds’ burrows are everywhere. There are few trees in much of the area but there is a section of regenerating bush. The first part of the walks is along the beach, starting near the lifesaving club.
- Beaches. There are a large number of beaches (both sheltered beaches on the inland side and surf beaches on the ocean side of the island)
- Scuba Diving. Phillip Island is home to some of the most spectacular scuba diving destinations in Victoria.
phone: +61 3 5952 1666address: 1821 Phillip Island RdModern European food and handcraft beers. Try the ales.
There are many and varied accommodation options available for the visitor to Phillip Island. These range from hostel accommodation, caravan parks, motels to "bed and breakfast" and private short-term holiday home rental.
phone: +613 5952 1033address: 1 Marlin St, Smiths Beach, VIC
phone: +61 3 9005 5220address: 144 The Esplanade Surf Beach VIC3-story holiday home, 4 bedrooms all with private en-suites (6 wc), billiard room, table tennis and beach front with 270-degree ocean/bay views.
phone: +61 3 5671 9300address: Silverwater Resort, Phillip Island Tourist Road,17 Potters Hill Road, San Remo VIC 3925
phone: +61 3 5956 6123address: 10-12 Phillip Island Rd, NewhavenHoused in the 'Big Wave Complex', a fairly recent development just over the bridge, The Island Accommodation plays host to a number of different room types, suitable for couples and families. It is home to the island's only backpackers, with 4, 6 or 8-bed dorms. Includes free parking, communal kitchen and lounge and free Wi-Fi.
- French Island - Take the ferry to French Island.